Suburban GOP lawmakers push for term limits, dismiss questions about unity
Within the last week, a top member of Illinois House Republican leadership abruptly resigned from the legislature and Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a birth control bill many of his fellow GOP members opposed.
But suburban House and Senate Republicans presented a unified front Monday at Schaumburg Township Republican offices as they called for the passage of a term limits proposal that, while politically popular, is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.
Republicans state Sen. Michael Connelly of Wheaton and Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods joined state representatives Jeannie Ives of Wheaton, Mark Batinick of Plainfield and Christine Winger of Wood Dale, along with a number of Republicans challenging sitting Democratic lawmakers, for the midday news conference where party staffers far outnumbered members of the media.
Flanked by a large poster showing former President Richard Nixon and House Speaker Michael Madigan side by side, Gurnee Republican Mike Amrozowicz, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake Nov. 8, pointed out that Nixon had yet to be impeached, the Sears Tower was still under construction and gas was 36 cents a gallon when Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, was first elected to the state House in 1971.
"Too many lawmakers care more about the next election than the future of Illinois," Ives said, saying that when officials spend too much time in Springfield, "it stops being about public service."
The news conference comes on the heels of a statewide push by Rauner urging the General Assembly to approve legislation that would put a proposed constitutional amendment enacting term limits on the 2018 ballot. The governor has also been advocating for a new system that would more objectively draw political boundaries every decade. The current system gives mapmaking power to the party that controls state government, which in recent years has been Democrats.
Connelly pointed out that term limits proposals have also been sponsored by Democrats, though long-serving Democratic leaders, including Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, often block the bills from advancing out of committee. Republicans say their mission is to educate voters about why that's happening.
As they seek to whittle away Democratic majorities this fall, Republicans dismissed questions about any fissures within the party after state Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove, a top ally of Rauner, abruptly resigned last week and after Rauner signed legislation expanding insurance coverage for contraceptives that was voted against by each of the lawmakers at the news conference.
"He certainly didn't listen to us on that vote," Ives said, "That said, we are all 100 percent behind the governor on his reform efforts."